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I Dream I am Tate

A Tribute to R.K. Narayan's memory

K.V. Bapa Rao ON | 14 May 2001
I Dream I am Tate
Playing cricket (behind wickets) with his nephews and niece at his mysore home
I Dream I am Tate
outlookindia.com
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I am wandering through Mempi forest in the twilight, eager, lost and frightened, heart pounding at with every snapping twig and twittering bird. The forest is my refuge from a perplexing, heartless world and a place where I dream to grow. In my dream I am Tate of the MCC, spinning my team to victory with a web of hat tricks.

You push my dreamspace onto the stack and transport me, still dreaming, to a city street at night, with sweetmeat vendors and astrologers doing business by borrowed light. I have been on this street before -- was it Mylapore, T-Nagar, Sultan Bazar, all of these? The astrologer and his parrot beckon; with knowing wink and solemn smile, he tells me what I want to hear -- I am good, strong, and gentle, and my stubborn, compulsive quest, one I had much rather not be on, is a moot one. In your universe, beyond time and space, the evil is already vanquished, and I can be innocent of sin.

I want to see and hear more, push the stack again, Raju! But no, memory is short, so you pop my frame, and my street starts to dissolve. Now I am back in Mempi, training for Tate-hood with stones in a clearing in the afternoon sun.

Outside, time and history move on, linear and provincial and vicious. In the name of history, members of "one community" plot and execute murder against members of "another community" and harmless short round men in tucked up dhotis hurry to catch the train but die bloodily in back alleys, and Attila whimpers piteously over the corpses.

I wish I could dream on, worshipfully watching you sculpt chipped perfection while I practice my off-breaks. But time runs out, processes dies, and dreams end. Parrot-astrologers become passe’, and forests only get in the way of the march of history. It is time for you to leave me to my own devices, prey to the aimless caprice of the operating system.

Oh, historians will probably say that your tales were of an earlier era and more innocent world, and I needed to wake up anyway. To hell with them, I say, what do they know, they are useless mischief-makers who deserve to be slaughtered anyway. For myself, I know that, thanks to your company, I haven’t wandered and practiced in vain, that somewhere somewhen, there are unplayed unlost cricket dreams where I would be Tate.

Thank you, Talkative Man.

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